RELIGION IN BURMA
MOINES ET NONNES AU PAYS DES PAGODES
"Land of the pagodas". Burma is the land of monks and nuns…and they become beggars every morning. Every inhabitant, even the poorest, offers them fruit, bread or a few coins. At noon, daily, they all return to the monasteries and dedicate themselves to prayer, meditation and learning the sacred scriptures.
During the Shin-Pyu initiation ceremony, Burmese boys become adults. Their hair shaved off, they then don purple religious clothing. All are required to stay in a monastery for one year. They learn humility and, occasionally, reading.
Certains spaces in the monasteries are open to all who respect the premises. In the one I visited in Moulmein, the monks' beds were scattered throughout the gallery, set up around the cool drafts coming from the spaced-apart boards on the floor. Stillness, teak trees, and white mosquito nets promote meditation, with the silence interrupted by the drone of the monks' chants.
With the agreement of the oldest of the monks, who is in charge of the place, one can sit down and talk with him about life’s daily routine, or attend prayers in the pagodas.
In Saint-Malo in the 19th century, boys boarded fishing boats around the age of 11. Their adult lives began as soon as they left the port.
Although they are not required to do so, many little girls also go to monasteries. Like the boys, their heads are shaved, and they wear a pale pink outfit. In the past, it was the only way they could hope to get a bit of education. Today, in addition to going to school, the monastery is a source of personal education where, like boys, girls learn humility and wisdom. Days are spent praying in the country’s many pagodas.
The transition to adulthood is called the Nahtwin, a ceremony in which their ears are pierced.